(Verses 143-144-145)- If we choose evil deliberately and double our guilt by fraud and deception, we do not deceive God, but we deceive ourselves. We deprive ourselves of the Grace of God, and are left straying away from the Path. In that condition who can guide us or show us the way? Our true and right instincts become blunted; our fraud makes us unstable in character; when our fellow men find out our fraud and advantage we may have gained by that fraud are lost: and we become truly distracted in mind.
(* Verse 145) A/ Narrated Abdullah bin ‘Amr: The Prophet [PPBUH] said: “Whoever has the following four characteristics, will be pure hypocrite, and whoever has one of the following four characteristics, will have one characteristic of hypocrisy unless and until he gives it up:-
(1) Whenever he is entrusted, he betrays (proves dishonest)
(2) Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie.
(3) Whenever he makes a covenant, he proves treacherous.
(4) Whenever he quarrels, he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner. (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
B/ Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet [PPBUH] said:” The worst people before God on the Day of Resurrection will be the double-faced people who appear to some people with one face and to other people with another face” (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
(Verse 146)- Even Hypocrites can obtain forgiveness, on four conditions: (1) sincere repentance, which purifies their mind: (2) amendment of their conduct, which purifies their outer life: (3) steadfastness and devotion to God, which strengthen their faith and protects them from the assaults of evil: and (4) sincerity in their religion, or their whole inner being, which brings them as full members into the goodly Fellowship of Faith.
(Verse 147)- There is no pleasure, nor advantage to God in punishing His own creatures, over which He watches with loving care. On the contrary He recognizes any good –however little- which He finds in us, and delights to give us a reward beyond all measures. His recognition of us is compared by a bold metaphor to our gratitude to Him for His favors. The epithet (Shakir) is applied to God, as here in Surat Al-Bagara 2 verse 158, and other passages. In Surat Al-Nahl 16- verse 121, it is applied to Abraham:”he showed his gratitude for the favors of God, Who chose him and guided him to a Straight Way”.
(Verse 148)- We can make a public scandal of evil in many ways: (1) It may be idle sensational mongering; it often leads to some evil by imitation, as where criminal deeds are glorified in a cinema, or talked about shamelessly in a novel or drama. (2) It may be malicious gossip of a foolish, personal kind; it does no good, but it hurts people’s feelings. (3) It may be malevolent slander or libel; it is intended deliberately to cause harm to people’s reputation or injure them in other ways, and is rightly punishable under all laws. (4) It may be a public rebuke or correction or remonstrance, without malice: 1, 2, and 3 are absolutely forbidden. But 4 may be by person in authority; in which case the exception applies, for all wrong or injustice must be corrected openly, to prevent its recurrence. Or (4) may be by a person not vested with authority, but acting either from motives of public spirit, or in order to help someone who has been wronged; here again the exception will apply. But the motive is different, the exception does not apply. (4) Would also include a public complaint by a person who has suffered a wrong; he has every right to seek public redress.
(Verse 149) – Qadir=????: possessing power or strength-powerful-potent-having mastery-capable omnipotent-almighty, all-powerful (God). The root (Qadara) not only implies power, ability, strength, but two other ideas which is difficult to convey in a single word, i.e. the act and power of estimating the true value of a thing or persons, as in Surat Al-Ana’m 6 – verse 91; and the act and power of regulating something so as to bring it into correspondence with something. “Judgment of values” I think sums up these finer shades of meaning. God forgives what is wrong and is able fully to appreciate and judge of the value of our good deeds whether we publish them or conceal them.
(Verses 150-151-152)- Unbelief takes various forms. Three are mentioned here: (1) denial of God and His revelation to mankind through inspired men: (2) a sort of nominal belief in God and His apostles, but one which is partial, and mixed up with racial pride, which does not allow of the recognition of any apostle beyond those of a particular race; and (3) a nominal belief in universal revelation, but so hedged round with peculiar doctrines of exclusive salvation, that it practically approaches to a denial of God’s universal love for all mankind and all Creation. All three amount to Unbelief, for they really deny God’s universal love and care.
((Illustration to verses 153-176:-The people of the Book went wrong; the Jews in breaking their covenant and slandering Mary and Jesus, and in their usury and injustice; and the Christians in raising Jesus –the Apostle- to equality of God. God’s revelation is continued in the Qur’an, which comes with manifest proof and a clear light to those who understand.))
(Verse 153)- See Surat Al-Bagara 2 – verse 55, for the thunder and lightning which dazed those who were presumptuous enough to ask that they should see God face to face, and verse 51 for the worship of the golden calf. – The lesson is that it is presumptuous on the part of man to judge of spiritual things in terms of material things, or to ask to see God with their material eyes when God is above material forms and is independent of time and space.
(Verse 154)- In this verse there is recapitulation of three salient incidents of Jewish refractoriness already referred to in Surat Al-Bagara 2:- i.e. (1) the Covenant under the towering height of Sinai- verse 63: (2) their arrogance where they were commanded humility in entering a town verse 58: and (3) their transgression of the Sabbath (Saturday) verse 65.
(Verse 155) In verses 155,156,157,160(latter half), and 161 with parenthetical clauses including those in verses 158-159, and 160 (first half), there is a catalogue of the iniquities of which the Jews were guilty, and for these iniquities we must understand some such words as:”They are under divine displeasure”. Each clause of the indictment I have indicated by prefixing the word “that”. – See Surat Al-Imran 3- verse 21 and commentary. Also see Surat Al-Bagara 2 – verse 88, where the full meaning is explained. Note the crescendo (heightening effect) in the argument. Their inquiries were: (1) that they broke their Covenant; (2) that they rejected God’s guidance as conveyed in His Signs; (3) that they killed God’s Messenger and incurred a double guilt, i.e. that of murder and that of a deliberate defiance of God’s law; and (4) that they imagined themselves arrogantly self-sufficient, which means a blasphemous closing of their hearts forever against the admission of God’s grace. Then begins another series of iniquities from a different point of view: (1) that they rejected Faith; (2) that they made false charges against a saintly woman like Mary, who was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus; (3) that they boasted of having killed Jesus when they were victims of their own self-hallucination; (4) that they hindered people from God’s way; and (5) that by means of usury and fraud they oppressed their fellow-men. –
(Verse 156)-The false charge against Mary was that she was unchaste; see Surat Maryam 19 verses 27-28. Such a charge is bad enough to make against any woman, but to make it against Mary –the Mother of Jesus- was to bring into ridicule God’s power itself. Islam is especially strong in guarding the reputation of women, slanderers of women are bound to bring four witnesses in support of their accusations, and if they fail to produce four witnesses, they are to be flogged with eighty stripes and debarred forever from being competent witnesses. See Surat Al-Nour- 24 verse 4.
(Verse 157)-The end of the life of Jesus on earth is as much involved in mystery as his birth, and indeed the greater part of his private life, except the three main years of his ministry. It is not profitable to discuss the many doubts and conjectures among the early Christian sects and among Muslim Theologians. The Orthodox Christian Churches make it a cardinal point of their doctrine that his life was taken on the Cross, that he died and was buried, that on the third day he raised in the body with his wounds intact, and walked about and conversed, and ate with his disciples, and was afterwards taken up bodily to heaven. This is necessary for the theological doctrine of blood sacrifice and the vicarious atonement for sins, which is rejected by Islam. But some of the early Christian sects did not believe that Christ was killed on the Cross. The Basilidans believed that someone else was substituted for him. The Docetae held that Christ has never had a real physical or natural body, but only an apparent phantom body, and that his Crucifixion was only apparent, not real. The Marcionite Gospel (about 138 A.D) denied that Jesus was born, and merely said that he appeared in human form. The Gospel of St. Barnabas supported the theory of substitution on the Cross. The Qur’anic teaching is that Christ was not crucified, nor killed by the Jews, notwithstanding certain apparent circumstances which produced that illusion in the minds of some of his enemies; that disputation, doubts, and conjectures on such matters are vain; and that he was taken up to God.
(Verse 158)- There is difference of opinion as to the exact interpretation of this verse. The words are: The Jews did not kill Jesus, but God raised him up (Rafa’hu=????) to Himself. One school holds that Jesus did not die the usual human death, but still lives in the body in heaven; another holds that he did die (Surat Al-Ma’ida – 5 verse 120) but not when he was supposed to be crucified, and that his being “raised up” to God means that instead of being disgraced as a malefactor –as the Jews intended- he was on the contrary honored by God as His Apostle: see next verse. The same word Rafa’a is used in association with honor in connection with Al-Mustafa [PPBUH]. See Surat Al-Sharh 94 – verse 4.
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